A report published by 9News indicates that the Colorado legislature has moved one step closer to passing a law creating a felony driving under the influence (DUI) offense for repeat offenders. On March 25, the Colorado state house finance committee approved a bill that would make a person’s fourth lifetime DUI a felony, meaning that offenders could be subject to much stiffer legal penalties. The next step for the legislation will be a review by the house appropriations committee, where Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst believes that it may face additional challenges. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Colorado is one of only 3 states, along with the District of Columbia, that does not currently have a felony DUI law.
Why felony DUI is wrong for Colorado
Denver DUI defense attorney Jay Tiftickjian has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed law since it was first proposed. There are various reasons that the law would not be effective to deter DUIs and would actually impose an unnecessary cost on Colorado taxpayers. Some of these reasons are detailed below.
- There are several alternatives to a Felony DUI law – There are many alternative to a felony DUI law that would save taxpayers money and help reduce the incidence of DUIs rather than simply punishing repeat offenders. These include alcohol sensors, improvements to roadways, increased spending on mental health programs, and improved drug courts. These measures have the added benefit of helping all of Colorado deal with the issue of drunk driving rather than simply benefiting those with a high incidence of DUI.
- Repeat offenders are not the cause of DUI fatalities – According to a press release issued by MADD, research conducted by Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation indicates that majority of DUI-related fatal accidents are caused by first-time offenders. As a result, state resources would be better allocated to programs and measures aimed at reducing the overall incidence of drunk driving rather than punishing repeat offenders.
- Repeat offenders are not deterred by legal consequences – A person who would be eligible to be charged under the proposed law would have already been subjected to significant legal consequences, most likely including probation, mandatory counseling, the installation of an ignition interlock device, the loss of his or her driving privileges, and jail time. If he or she continues to drive drunk, there is obviously an underlying mental health issue that should likely be treated rather than punished.
Contact a Denver DUI defense attorney today to schedule a free case evaluation
While under current law any DUI offense is a misdemeanor, the legal consequences of even a first DUI can be extremely severe. As a result, anyone accused of a Colorado DUI should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In many instances, the representation of an experienced lawyer can result in a much better outcome for than if a defendant chose to represent him or herself. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, please do not hesitate to contact the Tiftickjian Law Firm today at (303) DUI 5280 or send us an email through our online contact form available here.